Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 4: Dissonance Theory & Episode 5: Contrapasso
I passed over re-sharing the “Westworld Interim Thoughts” post because it was midseason speculation from a show that has finished; but if you’re working your way through the show now or reading to catch up, it’s a good read! Onward then, for the recap of episodes 4 & 5!
Good day, everyone! My apologies for the delay in getting more Westworld thoughts to all of you. Jumping right in, we still have a great many mysteries left to explore in this wonderful show, so let us begin. I’ll explore a few main points from the last two episodes and leave you all with a few discussion questions to foster the growth of these topics as more episodes follow.
For this one, I want to focus on the story arcs (whether briefly or in detail) of several characters in particular—Dolores, Maeve, William, the Man in Black, and the park employees as a group (including the programmers and Dr. Ford).
Dolores remains the central focus of what appears to be the main storyline of the series so far—she has several meetings with Bernard and Ford (though where these occur chronologically is anyone’s guess), and she has a man’s voice in her head compelling her through non-programmed actions, such as defending herself with a gun and going off her humble cattle farmer’s daughter loop. What exactly will come from the voice in her head, and who that is, and what will come from Bernard slowly unchaining her (as it were) is unclear at this point, though Bernard does reveal to Dolores the existence of the Maze and that it may be a way for her to become free, whatever that means in context. Once she falls in with William and Logan on their adventures, her visual (and voiced) transition from damsel in distress to protagonist in her own story is demonstrated in her changing out of a dress into gunfighter attire.
On the topic of William: he, Logan, the Man in Black, and the park workers all present disparate and sometimes contradictory versions of outside humanity brought into Westworld. William and Logan are not actually friends—William is a high-ranking employee of Logan’s family’s corporation and apparently engaged to Logan’s sister. William is simple middle management, as declared rather scornfully by Logan in the fifth episode, and Logan seems to look down on anyone below his rather lofty social standing.
There’s a problem that seems to arise here—these types of careers, and even differences in social standing, seem to contradict the image of the world conjured up by the Man in Black when he encounters Dr. Ford on his way to discover the Maze with Teddy in tow. Ed Harris’s character describes a world free of challenge where every need is met, and that people like him come to places like Westworld to discover their true selves in adventurous circumstances. Perhaps this is only a reflection of the Man in Black’s own privilege, being as he has afforded trips to the park for 30 years, and other guests encountering him even remark that some foundation of his in the real world has saved many lives, but this mystery has become even deeper moving forward.
An immediate concern that further contradicts the Man in Black’s assertion is shown in the park workers who repair Maeve and some of the other hosts. The younger programmer engaged in this—Felix—declares that he needs his job when trouble looms, leading one to believe that not everything is as peachy for everyone else as it is for the Man in Black.
These points have brought us around to Maeve, who, for me, may be the most interesting character, and is at least as complicated as Dolores. Maeve is beginning to remain partially conscious even during her death and maintenance cycles, and she is having flashes of memories of park employees picking up her dead body and repairing her. In a chill-inducing scene in the fourth episode, we see her make a quick sketch of a suited-up repairman and attempt to hide it away in her floor, only to discover that she has made the same sketch and hidden it in the same spot perhaps a dozen times before. Discovering a bullet fragment in her unscarred abdomen appears to be the last straw that pushes her over into maintaining her control between loops, and we are left with a powerful ending to the fifth episode as she awakens and begins speaking to Felix about needing his help. Things are about to get crazy, and the revolution is close.
To wrap up, who do you think is the voice in Dolores’s head? Is it Arnold? Is he still alive somewhere, or could these rogue manifestations of consciousness be a parting gift he left in his creations before dying?
Maeve does not share the voice in her head that Dolores hears. Is her awakening of the same sort, or is it something different? Is one true AI and is the other simply made to look like it? Are their awakenings the results of different, unconnected individuals or groups tampering with hosts?
Who put the satellite uplink in the suicidal host that Elsie discovered last episode? What is its connection to everything else that’s going on, if there even is a connection? As Elsie says in the fourth episode, everyone in the park but her seems to have some sort of agenda, so is there a possibility that none of these things are even connected?
Where even is the park, and how much of it might simply be virtual reality, which we now know with certainty does exist there, given remarks last episode?
Let me know your thoughts on all these points in the comments below, and thank you all for stopping by and reading! More to follow!